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UPDATED: 13:25, November 18, 2004
China highly values ties with Latin America: president
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Visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao said Wednesday in Buenos Aires that China attaches great importance to developing relations with Latin American and Caribbean countries.

While addressing Argentina's Congress, Hu said that as developing countries, China and the Latin American and Caribbean nations should strengthen cooperation to meet new challenges in a complex and constantly changing international environment.

The cooperation, the president said, is not only in the interests of individual countries, but is also conducive to world peace and development.

In a relatively long term, Hu said, China will continue to focus on its modernization drive, and this will offer a precious opportunity for mutually beneficial cooperation with the Latin American and Caribbean nations which have great potential for development.

Hu Jintao said that his country would strengthen cooperation with Argentina to boost common development.

Hu said China, Latin American and Caribbean countries should seize current favorable opportunities to bring bilateral relations to a new high.

He said China and Argentina have enjoyed long-term and friendly exchanges despite their geographical distance. Since the establishment of full diplomatic relations 32 year ago, the two countries have achieved all-round and sound development of bilateral ties.

Citing frequent high-level visits between the two countries, Hu said China and Argentina have already strengthened political mutual trust.

Hu, who began his first state visit to Argentina on Tuesday, said, "The two countries decided to establish full-range cooperative partnership in 2001 and President Nestor Kirchner and I have also reached consensus on the establishment of strategic partnership relations."

In the economic area, he said bilateral cooperation has been expanded increasingly and the two countries have become each other's major trading partner.

Argentina is China's fourth largest trading partner in Latin America. Two-way trade reached 3.176 billion US dollars last year, up 122 percent from the year before.

China mainly imported soybeans, bean oil, crude oil, leather and steel from Argentina, and exported computer, life science products, bulb and motorcycles, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.

Hu said the two countries have shared identical and similar views on international affairs, adding that China and Argentina supported each other and had very good cooperation in some key international issues.

China attaches great importance to its relations with Argentina, and is ready to work with the Argentine side to further friendly and cooperative relations with mutual benefit to sound and healthy development, Hu said.

"President Kirchner and I have realized reciprocal visit to each other's country this year and have had fruitful talks," he said.

Hu said the two presidents have agreed to increase political mutual trust, to expand economic and trade cooperation, to increase educational and travelers exchange, and to strengthen coordination on international occasions.

"I believe Sino-Argentine strategic partnership will achieve new results with our joint efforts," he said.

Hu arrived here from Brazil on Tuesday for a state visit to Argentina, the second leg of his four-nation tour which also includes Chile and Cuba.

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